Our visual language began some 40,000 plus years ago; in a dimly lit cave, where a distant relative stood before a blank rock wall and created a single handprint image that eventually grew into an elaborate hunt scene. This Paleolithic artist made their own pigments by charring, chewing or grinding plant, insect and animal remains into a paste-like substance and then applied the goo to a wall with their hands, or spat it from their mouths. It’s significant to me that they may have created their particular medium by taking a once living thing into their mouth, chewing it and combining it with their saliva then expelling it to a wall, or they may have used other bodily fluids to create a liquid medium. Their process of making an image included life and death as an integral part of their medium and this struggle was in turn depicted in their imagery of the hunter and hunted. Additionally, their painting process must have involved all of their individual senses of touch, smell, taste, sound and sight and they likely revelled in the creation of it; which resulted in an expressively visceral, physical, sensual, erotic, thoughtful and immersive record of human experiences for the profound necessity of their survival. From such early beginnings to this day, the making of art is something primal and intrinsic to our being.
The vast history and prehistory of our human origins and the origins of art triggers thoughts of mortality and where you or I may fit into the continuum. There’s desire, longing and loss inherent to such thoughts and the realization that we are all on the same journey.
All of art making is a kind of language that is like no other; we as artists struggle to find our own uniquely, individualized visual language of line, form and color so that we can say, “This is mine”, “This is how I feel”, or more to the point, “This is us”.
The act of painting encompasses all of human expression...this is its inherent desire; which exists in the magnetism between an image and object. Painting is a synthesis of the imagination and reality, the unknowable and the known; it is a dynamic interrelationship of content and form that provides a basis for its syntax and comprehension. The language of painting is internal, in the place of ideas, yet simultaneously it is about the concrete materiality of the object directly in front of us. Paintings operate in the interchangeable region between thinking (idea) and image (object).
An exceptional painting should propose a language that is ripe with possibility. I believe that painting, perhaps more than any other media, allows for an infinite variety and diversity of expression. The process of painting is non linear and defies the tidiness of a singular classification; its nature is elusive and subversive. Paint can be anything; the material itself, an action, a process of making, a reference to historical precedent, a literal representation, a scribbling of lines, a calling for its own death, or something headily conceptual; its thick or thin, gooey, viscous consistency is imbedded with all of human experiences and open to infinite readings and shifting interpretations. Painting is a language like no other – its messy, ambiguous, polysemic nature has always fascinated me.